The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 456 - Memory Lane
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Chapter 456: Memory Lane
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
“Fret not thyself of Life’s struggling; For mere smiles would have sent them fading”. The golden statue of the benevolent Buddha sat peacefully, his tranquil gaze and eternal smile witnessing the torment of human enmities and sentiments.
Before him below the altar, sat a lady in white who meditated reverently. She was none other than Devil Empress.
“To exact the pa.s.sing of the Sword Emperor?” Meng Qi was at a loss at the sudden remark. “Was the torment of External Devil not the sole reason he was returned to this realm? Could it be pertinent to Karma and Causality?”
Sword Emperor, who cherished talents and flair, had once counseled and showed him kindness. With his help, Meng Qi was able to improve his skills with the sword. Worn and battered by age, his powers and vigor were all but spent. The woeful tidings. .h.i.t Meng Qi profoundly. He felt the grief like a pinp.r.i.c.k to his heart. Was there nothing that he could do for his benefactor whose days were numbered?
He retained an impa.s.sive expression despite the flurries of thoughts that whirled through his mind. Concealing his anxiety and concern, he held his hands firmly behind his back as he gazed at the smiling Buddha statue on the altar. “I’ve had a recent urge to step out of my reclusive living to see the outside. I’d never forget the kindness that Sword Emperor has shown me and I’ll be in his debt forever.”
Their eyes never met as their gazes remain fixed upon the golden effigy before them. It was as if they were speaking to themselves.
“With unforeseen suddenness, from nowhere, you emerged unbidden. After the deed, you retreated into the shadows once more, whereas fortune and fame you have rejected with disdain. Could it be that such devotion to austerity and solitude actually exists?” Devil Empress said, slowly rising to her feet. Her raspy voice was dripping with allure.
“What of your sword?” she asked without pausing from her prior remark as if she had expected no answer from Meng Qi earlier.
“Xiao Meng, the G.o.d-Petrifying Sword, has not a sword at hand?”
Meng Qi’s robes fluttered lightly as he flung forth his arms to show that he was not armed. Both his saber and sword were kept within the s.p.a.ce Ring he wore. He grinned as he answered, “I forgot.”
He turned to face Devil Empress. Her white robes hugged her figure, provocatively outlining the curves of her physique without glimpses of her skin. Her veil hung across her face. Her rapturous beauty permeated through the gossamer of her obscured face, exuding strong flavors of exoticness and intrigue. Neither the veil nor her veiled visage was beautiful, but her visage in its veil.
So stood a ravis.h.i.+ng beauty who would have all men kneel before her on their knees, silent and still. Yet her quiet and reverent disposition blended with the tranquility of the prayer hall, the cus.h.i.+ons on the floor, the statues and effigies, the incense altar, the temple blocks, and all other items of sanct.i.ty to perfectness. Not a hint of the transitory and the ba.n.a.lities of Life clung about her. She belonged here, and here she should.
“The Oneness of Heaven and Man in its most profound manifestation…” Meng Qi sighed silently. Reminiscences of his hubris and folly came back to him, reminding him of his imprudence in brazenly dismissing the great strength of Great Grandmasters. Had Ruan Yushu not acquiesced her support by his side, had Devil Empress not merely tested his skills in search of a worthy confederate and spared his life; Never would he be able to shave off the thin strands of hairs of the Devil Empress and never would her veil fall.
Even so, Devil Empress today would have improved much since their last meeting. Her grasp of the Oneness of Heaven and Man was barely complete then. Sword Emperor had most recently mastered his powers then, in search of the course of his future faculties. Has he found it, the path he so sought?
Devil Empress felt Meng Qi’s gaze upon her, a look of admiration rather than one of pure carnal l.u.s.t. Composedly, she asked, “You forget your sword? Or you no longer require one?”
“No, I’ve yet to obtain the skills where a sword wouldn’t be needed. I’ve just left mine at my lodgings,” he replied in jest.
Devil Empress was slightly caught unprepared by his remark and poise. She was momentarily disoriented.
Meng Qi turned around gently. His hands behind his back, his slow strides moved towards the doors from whence he entered. His nonchalance before a lady of such fair and slender beauty left everyone speechless. Readily he came and readily he left, a spirit of free-will and insouciance.
Devil Empress showed no attempt to hinder his leaving. Instead, she turned her gaze back unto the Buddha’s statue before her. Solemnly she spoke in a silky voice, “Living Buddha has arrived at the capital as well. As you well know, he once pledged to send you to the Paradise with his own hands.”
“Life and death spare no man; why yet the fervent vain?” uttered Meng Qi, chuckling without looking back. He stepped over the threshold of the door and headed for the main halls of the temple.
Trees stood tall and thick before the side halls from whence Meng Qi emerged. Arched over a pathway the trees towered. Dappled sunlight and shade fell upon pathway beneath their spreading boughs and into its gloom, the green robes faded.
“Mistress, who is the man who came by?” one of the handmaidens of Devil Empress – all of them clad in white as is the fas.h.i.+on of their mistress – asked in m.u.f.fled curiosity.
Curiously he came by and curiously he left?
How could the Mistress have suffered such impertinence!
Even the stout sentinels of evil who guarded the entrance were perplexed as to the name of their unbidden guest who had so easily slipped past their barricade. Keenly they listened, waiting for their Mistress’ answer.
Calmly, Devil Empress revealed her answer to quell their swelling concern. “There could only be so many that the Living Buddha has vowed to personally deliver from the realm of the Living,” she said. “More so of the ones who still breathes.”
Rancorously the chambermaids in white scoured and raked their memories in search of a name. One of them let out a cry of astonishment, “G.o.d-Petrifying Sword?”
Long ago, ‘G.o.d-Petrifying Sword’ Xiao Meng had barged into the Yunyan Mansion and took with him the true emissary, whom he had slain later on. He had then stirred into havoc and pandemonium a terrible upheaval in the capital, throwing the plans of the Western Invaders into disarray. The mayhem that he wrought had then driven Living Buddha to swore in his wrath to personally deliver him from the realm of the living. But his sudden flight into the shadows hindered Living Buddha’s enactment of his vows and a watchful peace ensued.
The sentinels at the doors could not help but also exclaim in disbelief, “Xiao Meng, the infamous G.o.d-Petrifying Sword?”
“That name…” They wondered. Their eyes met and trembled in unison, a sudden dread that impending woe was afoot.
“So he came!”
“To the capital that all masters and prodigies have come!”
“Would the episode of the Sword Emperor send shockwaves across the land as the turbulence of the yesteryears once did?”
The doors to the most magnificent suite in Xiaoxiang Restaurant swung open. Stewards scuffled about hurriedly, setting dishes of delicacies and flasks of wine atop the tables.
Curious stares and looks came from the outside as interested pa.s.sersby swarmed about, hoping to steal a glimpse of the important person in the room. Only a prominent individual from the Jianghu, a famous and most ill.u.s.trious warrior in the arts of battle or a great Grandmaster of the lands could have commanded such magnificence and extravagance!
Masters skilled in martial techniques and discipline were looked upon in the greatest and highest esteem in this dimension, where the skills and mastery of martial techniques resembled the dignity of lords.h.i.+p and the majesty of kings.h.i.+p.
“I saw Miss Ru Zhen casting me an enticing wink earlier. Could tonight be a night of fortune for me?” Zhangsun Jing laughed loudly as he downed a gulp of wine.
Imperiously he towered over the table with his ma.s.sive frame and bear-like girth. The innocence upon his visage has been chiefly shed, grown in place were folds and creases of age and maturity that were accentuated by his now proud and das.h.i.+ng tenacity.
Ru Zhen was the name of the most popular courtesan of Xiaoxiang Restaurant.
“Or was the wink cast to me, perhaps?” the monk who sat across Zhangsun Jing said. A monk robed in white and clear clothing and shoes, insinuating purity and sanct.i.ty. His name was Wishful Monk, one whose name was renowned, far and long.
Zhangsun Jing guffawed loudly in delight. “You wish to remind me Master Monk, that a monk or a friar you may be, yet you appreciate the carnal pleasures as well?”
“A fallen monk I am not, my friend,” the monk answered gleefully. “But Miss Ru Zhen, I understand, studies the scriptures most studiously.” With a brief pause, he steered the subject of their conversation. “Three summers have come and pa.s.sed, tall and proud you have now become. The future does indeed belong to the young, as they say.”
“I am after all gifted in the arts of martial combat,” remarked his companion in jest. Turning into a more solemn tone, he continued, “Much whet and experience of combat are needed for the training of martial disciplines. There would be no better and more suitable profession than that of soldiery. I have stood abreast with General Lu during his western campaign and have fought and bled against the invaders of the West and the acolytes and minions of evil under the command of the Seventh Prince. Never would I forget of Master Meng, the warrior who had shown me kindness when he gave me guidance and advice. These all contributed to the current state of my strength and skill, unlike you, a fallen monk who has long labored under the sway of wine and liquor.”
The Wishful Monk sighed, subdued. “Indeed you are gifted in the schooling of martial techniques. Once I had merely slipped you simple words of wisdom and for a moment we were allies in combat and war. The experiences have allowed you insights into the essence of my martial disciplines, inspiring you to create a new martial discipline of blade strokes. An opus of your own making,” said the monk.
Strong and stout were their friends.h.i.+p, which had been hardened by the battles and adversities they both shared.
“Unfortunately, long have we tolerated the lack of tidings of what became of Master Meng. Loath am I to keep my current skills from his knowledge. How have I desired to speak to him!” Zhangsun Jing sighed. The guidance and kindness that Meng Qi had shown him were clearly etched in his mind. The first who had guided and mentored him in his earnest after his fortunate encounter.
Listening to the ardent accounts of the impa.s.sioned young man before him, the Wishful Monk drifted into a vision of his past memories himself. Strands of recollections that harked back to the moment of his duel with ‘G.o.d-Petrifying Sword’ Xiao Meng, and how he had coldly slain the Crown Prince in the presence of himself and many other powerful warriors.
“Young he was, but he sought not fame nor riches. He fancied freedom and cherished prudence. None could tell the manner of his ways. All that tried could only sigh in despair,” murmured Wishful Monk.
Suddenly, from the doors of the suite came loud rappings on wood that broke their silent reflections.
“Who could it be?” In abrupt shock, their pupils contracted in unison as they threw their sights upon the doors which have not been closed by the stewards since they left.
“Silently one has approached, hidden and undetected even by their skills and strength!”
“An old friend visits,” so came a cheery call from the door that reached their ears before their sights could make out their sudden guest.
A young man in green stood calmly by the door, still in the gesture of knocking upon the door.
Zhangsun Jing blinked his eyes as his eyes attempted to attain a clearer image of their guest. Slowly, his appearance and look came into view. Handsome he was, tall and fair. Remarkable and calm in bearing, yet not without the comfort of friendliness and sincerity. Not like the cold, unfathomable depths of the deep sea, but a breezing gust of wind that skimmed the waters of a still lagoon.
“Ma-Master Meng.” There was a brief moment of frozen surprise before Zhangsun Jing could rose to his feet and welcome their unbidden guest.
The shock had hit Wishful Monk stronger still. It was only at Zhangsun Jing’s gesture of welcome that truly convinced him that this was the one and only Xiao Meng. The very same legend who has been monikered G.o.d-Petrifying Sword who had once sent shockwaves through the entire capital.
G.o.d-petrifying Sword of old prided himself in exceptional skills and mastery of the sword, but the depths of his powers and strength had then remained far from inexplicable.
Meng Qi nodded in a faint delight, acknowledging the warm reception of his host. “Who could have known that in only so few a number of years, you are now a great warrior in your own right,” he praised.
A strange oddness of melancholy crept into him, witnessing the profound change in his friends of old.
A youngster of twenty-five summers he was, Zhangsun Jing had not looked as if he had aged greatly. In response to Meng Qi he answered, “Five years have barely past. No longer, Master Meng. You seemed to have achieved much, I see. You even look younger and fairer than I am.”
At this, he bowed to Meng Qi reverently, a show of grat.i.tude of the benevolence he had been shown. “I must express my grat.i.tude to you, Master Meng. Without your guidance and your compa.s.sion, I would not be the Zhangsun Jing I am today.”
“Stand not on the ceremony of such ba.n.a.lities. A mere ‘Xiao Meng’ or ‘Young Master Meng’ would suffice,” Meng Qi said as he sat down. Unabashed, he poured himself a small thimbleful of wine whilst he continued, “Long have I retreated from the bustles of civilization. I have had a recent urge to step out of the shade to see the world. Yet, I find myself wanting in the knowledge and understanding of the ways in the capital. Let us hear a tale of the affairs that transpired during my absence in the five years that pa.s.sed.”
Hurriedly, Zhangsun Jing complied to his benefactor’s behest. “Five years have pa.s.sed since the present Emperor took to the throne. A northern conquest to tame and subdue the barbarians of the West was launched where Supreme General Lu was appointed the commander of the armies of the north. Vicious battles and clashes we have endured against the wild men of the West for two years. Then word came from the Southern East regions that the Seventh Prince has launched an offensive against the imperial court. We were a.s.sailed from both front and back. But His Majesty had remained calm and decisive, mobilizing the righteous and just of the Jianghu to lend their a.s.sistance. Far into the plains of the wilderness, the Sword Emperor ventured, at whence Living Buddha was beaten with little effort. Thus we endured and persisted against the lambasting enemies at our gates. Then came our moment of retribution. We finally drove the barbarians out of the mountain pa.s.ses at our borders. Supreme General Lu steered the armies South and routed the rabbles of the Seventh Prince as we finally secured the upper hand. Victory is at hand now, as long as we seek secure victories with minimal risks.”
“Yet not more than two months ago, His Majesty summoned the Right Chief Minister who had been with the armies in the South to return to the capital with expeditious haste. Words now roamed the capital that the Sword Emperor is in his final days. The grim tidings eventually spread down South and Supreme General Lu despatched me to return here to ascertain the news.”
“There has been strong omens that Living Buddha of the present generation has slipped into the capital with the party of emissaries from the Western wastelands. It is said that it is in the Yunyan Mansion whence he is now hidden. I fear a moment of reckoning is afoot. Even Devil Empress, who then stood abreast with the Seventh Prince and the Royal Advisor, has retreated into recluse have been told to be stirring from their slumber.”
Meng Qi nodded and murmured softly, “I see.”
The tale of Zhangsun Jing’s accounts has satisfied him adequately. Still, he has not the urge nor the obligation to interfere with the affairs of others that did not require him dipping his fingers into.
Wishful Monk who had remained silent and watchful, smiled as he warned Meng Qi suddenly, “Donor Meng, be careful should you encounter Living Buddha. Many years before he has vowed to deliver you from the realm of the living by his own hands. Woe betide you if you were to meet him.”
Bearing knowledge of Living Buddha’s vows, Zhangsun Jing urged anxiously, “The line of Living Buddha maintains skills where the Spiritual Core, the Imparted Memories of the bygone and the knowledge of their predecessors are pa.s.sed down to the most recent holder of the t.i.tle of Living Buddha. It allows the acc.u.mulation of knowledge and power through the ages. Word has it that Living Buddha possesses the ability to draw one into the chaos of the Samsara like G.o.ds and deities of old. Mystical and terrible powers he holds, unlike most grandmasters of martial disciplines. Rumors of the invincibility of Living Buddha’s most potent technique the Grand Sun Anti-Fire Wheel are none the minuscule as well.”
Meng Qi listened raptly in silence and suddenly grinned. “Would you be interested in joining me for a visit somewhere?”
“Where is it?” Zhangsun Jing and Wishful Monk asked in unison.
Meng Qi stood from his seat, patting dust off his green robe.
“The Yunyan Mansion.”
The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 456 - Memory Lane
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The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 456 - Memory Lane summary
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